Pitt Tuesday Afternoon Practice

The temperature was in the high 80s when Pitt began its Tuesday afternoon practice and soared into the 90s as the day wore on.

However, the temperature on the artificial surface was astronomical.

"It was 152 degrees on the turf,'' Shawn Besong, a video and coaching graduate assistant, shouted to Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt. "That was the reading we got.''

Fortunately for the Panthers and those media in attendance, the majority of the workout took place on the grass field. And Wannstedt was happy with the team's performance.

"It was a good practice today, from the standpoint that we got a nice, warm day to start off, and we had two situations today that we scrimmaged live,'' Wannstedt said. "We had a good third-down scrimmage where we put some pressure on the secondary and put some pressure on the receivers to make plays after the catch. And then, at the end, we had a goal-line scrimmage.

"So, we were able to take advantage of things, which allows me to adjust (Wednesday). We'll have some live work, but it won't be a full-fledged scrimmage in the afternoon like we originally planned. (That's) mainly because we got 30 plays in today scrimmaging. We'll get some scrimmage work in, but we'll limit the plays that we actually go live (Wednesday).''

Pitt will still practice twice Wednesday, which basically is the final camp day. FanFest is Thursday, with an afternoon walk-through closed to the media and the public. There's a Friday night practice where the Panthers begin to install their game plan for Youngstown State Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.

Wannstedt believed he and his staff would still be able to evaluate the competition for two starting spots: left offensive guard between redshirt sophomore Chris Jacobson and senior Joe Thomas and a safety spot between sophomore Andrew Taglianetti and redshirt junior Elijah Fields.

"We're going to watch the film from today, and probably make a decision,'' Wannstedt said. "From the fan's perspective and media's perspective, who's with the first group is meaningful. I'm not minimizing that.

"But Joe Thomas is a starter for us and has been for years. And Chris Jacobson is playing well. Cedric McGee and Oderick Turner are both starters for us. Elijah Fields and Andrew Taglianetti. I know somebody has to line up when we go out there (after) the opening kickoff, I understand that.

"But it's probably more of a story and more of a conversation away from here than it is in-house,'' Wannstedt added. "(But) I'm just glad that we're fortunate enough to have great depth. ... And that's the way we look at it.''

For the fans and media, then, Jacobson and Taglianetti have been taking nearly all the first-team reps at their respective positions and appear to be headed for starting spots. Certainly, Taglianetti has solidified his position, even though Fields has played well lately after a slow start and injury.

Jacobson is another story. He still has made a few mistakes here and there to keep the competition close, but the Pitt coaches are giving him every opportunity to win the job. He split time with the first team Monday, but took every snap with Tuesday with Thomas holding the second-team spot. So, the two practices Wednesday likely will determine the starter.

In the team portion of the during Tuesday afternoon's practice, junior quarterback Pat Bostick came up with the biggest passing play, as he lofted a touchdown toss to Devin Street. The freshman wideout beat cornerback Jeremiah Davis to the post for the 50-yard score. The two also hooked up on a sideline pass for 25 yards and a crossing pattern for 15.

Redshirt freshman tight end Mike Cruz, getting a lot of first-team reps with seniors Nate Byham (concussion) and Dorin Dickerson (hamstring) out, caught two touchdown passes in short-yardage situation. Bill Stull also threw two short touchdown passes.

On the first one for Cruz from Bostick, he caught the pass near the goal line and scored with linebacker Max Gruder hanging on him. On the other, Tino Sunseri fired to him across the middle with linebacker Greg Williams nearby. Williams got no safety help on Cruz.

Bostick also connected with freshman tight end Brock DeCicco, who did a hook near the goal line, spun around linebacker Manny Williams and looped in for the score. Stull hit Jonathan Baldwin for a score on one side, and Sunseri connected with him to the other. Cornerback Jovani Chappel had good coverage on both, but the balls were perfectly thrown for Baldwin to go up to make the plays.

And not to be outdone by his rookie running mates, redshirt freshman tailback Chris Burns squeezed through on the left side for a 35-yard score.

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